Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pricey Sunny out of IPL

Lalit Modi is not the only one out of the IPL. Cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar will not be in the council when IPL-4 begins.

The BCCI has decided that Ravi Shastri and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi will be the two cricketers deciding on playing matters, that too in an honorary capacity. The move will become formal once Pataudi gives his consent to serve without the `1 crore net (tax-free payment) that each of the three cricketers got in the first three editions.

It is learnt that Modi had promised to increase the payments to the cricketers on the council on a differential scale, with as much as an additional million dollars going to the top player.

That did not go down well with the BCCI, which wants to change the structure of the IPL by making it a subsidiary tournament under its aegis instead of letting it be run by a sporting czar like Modi.

With Mr Sharad Pawar, ICC president, not in a position to lend his voice in BCCI matters now, Gavaskar may have been isolated. It is believed that he may become a mentor figure for one of the two new teams that are slated to join in season 4.

It is thought that Gavaskar will in some way be attached to the Kochi franchise while also being in a position to retain his commentary position as a freelance commentator.

US Senate blocks bill on H1B bar

Two amendments moved by the US Senator, Mr Chuck Grassley, on restricted hiring of foreign workers and another aimed at preventing abuse of H-1B and L1 visas could not pass the Senate floor.

The amendments moved along with the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act, was bloc-ked by the Democratic Party, he said. The offshoring Act, meant to ensure that firms taking US government aid do not outsource jobs, was blocked by the Republicans.

His first amendment would have prevented any firm engaged in a mass lay-off of American workers from importing labour from abroad through temporary guest worker programs.

The second would have taken aim at fraud and abuse of the H-1B and L Visa programmes, while making sure that Americans have the first chance at high-skilled jobs in the US.

The H-1B and L1 Visa amendment would have required employers to try and recruit US workers before hiring H-1B visa holders.

Judgment day: Nation waits for verdict in Ayodhya title suit

Police has tightened security in 50 sensitive towns in Andhra Pradesh to avoid trouble after the Ayodhya verdict even as the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, and the director-general of police, Mr K. Aravinda Rao, made fervent appeals for calm.

The government ruled out declaring a holiday to government institutions and schools on Thursday, saying things would be normal. Some schools, however, will be closing early to enable children to reach their homes by 3.30 pm, when the Allahabad High Court will pronounce its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit.

Security was ramped up across the country and leaders across party lines called for restraint in the aftermath of the verdict on four title suits on the ownership of the disputed 2.7 acres of land in Ayodhya.

In New Delhi, invoking Mahatma Gandhi and resting hope on the young generation, the home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, made an appeal for peace, stating that India has “moved on since 1992”. He said, “the India story is much bigger a story and young people recognise that bigger story should not be derailed over dispute over a piece of land.”

The AP police chief said the towns in Anantapur, Kurnool and Chittoor district have been added to sensitive areas list and urged people not to get emotional about the verdict. He specially appealed to the youth not get involved in the clashes and spoil their careers as they will be booked by the police.

“We are requesting the cooperation of the public,” said the DGP. “All community leaders and political parties have pointed out that this judgment is not the end of the road."

Police has taken 100 rowdysheeters into custody and has deployed additional forces across the state. The Hyderabad police commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan, imposed 144 section of CRPC banning assembly of more than four persons.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Athletes to hold fort in opening gala

In a first for the 80-year-old Commonwealth Games, athletes will be provided the honour of marching into the stadium for the opening ceremony, much like the Olympic Games. Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell announced the protocol arrangements for the opening ceremony of the Delhi Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on October 3.

“For the first time in the history of the Games the athletes will march into the stadium during the opening segment of the ceremony after which they will be seated to enjoy the rest of the ceremony,” a CGF statement said here on Tuesday.

“Both the CGF and the Organising Committee have agreed that the emphasis of the opening ceremony must be on the athletes of the Commonwealth, allowing them to be the focus of attention,” Fennell said.

The dignitaries to be present at the ceremony will include President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, HRH the Prince of Wales, as the representative of the Head of the Commonwealth, the Queen, Fennell himself and OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi, all of whom will officiate at the ceremony.

3,100 athletes check into Village

Athletes from around the world continued to pour into the Athletes Village on Tuesday. About 850 sportspersons arrived on the day, among them Canadian Susan Nattrass, a six-time Olympian and seven-time world trap shooting champion.

Jamaica’s contingent of 87 athletes who entered the Village included the shooting, cycling, netball and athletics teams. The other large contingents arriving included Northern Ireland (83), Samoa (57), Guernsey (55), New Zealand (52), Cook Islands (49) and Australia (48).

Australia, one of the countries that had slammed the village last week, said the organisers were working hard to improve the facilities with less than a week remaining before the start of the event.

“It’s pretty good. I feel completely safe and secure,” Lynsey Armitage, a member of the Australian lawn bowls team, said.

South Africa also said the first contingent from their 150-
strong squad had moved into the village on Tuesday after the residential zone was passed as fit by the team leader.
There was more good news as coach of women’s world 800m champion Caster Semenya assuring of her trip to India. “She is still coming to India,” Semenya’s coach Michael Seme told an Australian newspaper.

Red alert: Police bans pillion riding

Bracing itself for the aftermath of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit, the city police banned pillion riding for a week from Tuesday and also deployed 20,000 personnel in the city.

“Pillion riding would not be allowed from 9 pm to 6 am from September 28 to October 4,” said the Hyderabad police commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan. “Women and children below 12 years are exempted.”

The city police extended prohibitory orders and banned gathering of more than four persons, holding rallies and making speeches or displaying banners or flags. The Cyberabad police imposed Section 144 within its limits. CRPF and RAF personnel would be deployed from Wednesday.

The Centre identified 32 trouble spots across the country and kept forces on alert at 16 places and has readied transport aircraft.

State gets Polavaram shocker from Centre

The state’s efforts to get national status for the Polavaram project received a jolt on Tuesday when the Central Water Commission (CWC) made it clear that it would not send the proposal for clearance to the Expenditure and Finance Committee (EFC) until the Central Electricity Authority gave the Techno Economic Clearance (TEC) for the 960-mw hydro power project.

This means that national status for Polavaram will take more time as the CEA has asked AP Genco to prepare a detailed project report for a second time.

The project has been waiting for national status for four years. It had received all clearances and was awaiting a final nod from the EFC. The irrigation department, meanwhile, has dropped hopes of getting the TEC in time and has requested the Chief Minister’s permission to go ahead with separate tenders for the hydro project and the dam and spill way.

Raising serious objections over availability of water and floods in the Godavari, the CEA had asked Genco to submit a revised project report to get the TEC. “We are finalising the report as the apex electricity body wanted to know about several other aspects of the project, it will take more time,” said Mr Adiseshu, director (Hydel), Genco.

Until AP Genco submits a revised DPR, there will be no TEC. If there is no TEC, the CWC will not propose national status for the project before the EFC.

The state is awaiting the status as it would ensure 90 per cent of the project cost from the Centre.

Meanwhile, the National Forum Against Polavaram Dam resolved to stall the project alleging that it will displace more than two lakh people and over 300 habitations. The convener of the forum, Mr Badal Kumar Tah, said consent has not been taken from the people of affected.

Siddhantis to fix festival dates

Senior siddhantis from various parts of the state will converge for a summit at the temple town of Basara on October 3 to standardise the Telugu panchangam or almanac.

Mr V. Mrutyunjaya Sarma, who is coordinating the event, said as many as 30 senior siddhantis sort out differences among various panchangas on events such as festivals, muhurats and eclipses.

In recent years, there have been differences among siddhantis even on festivals such as Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, often forcing people to celebrate it on two different days.

“The idea is to evolve a code of ethics for siddhantis in the state,” said Mr Sarma, who also heads the Medak district unit of AP Brahmins Association. “Panchangam prepared by different siddhantis follow different patterns.”

“Unfortunately, over a period of time the standards have fallen and siddhantis often end up as a laughing stock,” he added.

The Telugu almanac is based on the calculations of Bhaskara II dating back to the 12th century. The Telugu lunar calendar has a cycle of 60 years and the interpolation of the solar calendar has often led to differences among siddhantis on when the actual muhurat of an event or festival begins.

The senior siddhanthi from Tirupati, Tangirala Poornachandra Siddhanti, will chair the event. “We will also discuss how to expose bogus siddhantis,” said Mr Sarma. “Only well qualified siddhantis should be allowed to prepare the almanac.”

Praful stopped at Chicago airport

The Union civil aviation minister, Mr Praful Patel, was stopped for questioning by authorities at the Chicago airport in the United States but later allowed to go on Monday night, in a case of mistaken identity.

According to sources, the incident occurred after Chicago airport officials posted a lookout notice for someone with a “similar name and date of birth” as that of the minister. Indian diplomats in the US intervened following which Mr Patel was allowed to leave.

Mr Patel, as an Indian minister, is exempt from frisking at American airports. The Union civil aviation ministry sought to downplay the incident. The minister stated, “I’m in Montreal and nothing happened... There is a person with
similar name and date of birth and that’s why they just
checked.” The minister is on an official visit to Canada.

There was a furore last year when the former President, Dr A.P.J. Kalam, was subjected to checks at the New Delhi IGI airport by an US airline.

60-year Ayodhya wait ends tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed two petitions to defer the Ayodhya title suit ruling and cleared the decks for the Lucknow bench of the Allhahabd high court to pronounce judgment in the 60-year-old case.

Soon after this, it was announced that the three-member high court bench would deliver its verdict at 3.30 pm on Thursday, September 30.

The September 30 date fixed by the Lucknow bench is of some importance as one of the judges of the three-member bench, Justice D.V. Sharma, is due to retire on October 1. The other two judges on the bench are Justices S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal.

Preferring not to comment on the merits of the case and offering no major observation during the hearing of arguments by a battery of senior advocates for the contesting parties, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and K.S. Radhakrishnan, in a very brief order, rejected two special leave petitions by the former bureaucrat, Mr Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, to allow the contestants a last chance for a negotiated settlement.

“Having considered the detailed arguments advanced in these cases, we are of the view that the special leave petitions deserve to be dismissed. Accordingly, we hereby pass the following order: the SLPs ... stand dismissed,” said the chief justice of India, reading the order from his diary as the court reassembled at 2 pm.

The only notable observation came from Justice Alam, who said: “We are running out of time because you woke up very late. It (the case) has been going on for the past 50 years.”

Justice Alam further asked: “Why were you quiet all these years. Why is this petition only before the judgment is to be pronounced?”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jagan drops his father’s style of delivering speech

On the 17th day of his Odarpu yatra, the Kadapa MP, Jagan Mohan Reddy, has changed his style of delivering speeches. Visiting villages in Ballikurva and Martur mandals of Prakasam district, the Kadapa MP took to speaking in very fast bursts very different from the slow speed with long pauses that he adopted earlier on in imitation of his father, the late YSR.

The new style of speaking will have a wider appeal for women and the young, according to political analysts. After an overnight stay in Konanki, Mr Reddy resumed his yatra by offering flowers before the statue of YSR at the zilla parishad high school in Konanki on Thursday morning. He then went to Nagaraju Palli Tanda and offered prayers at Anjaneya Swamy temple.

Banjara tribals gave him a warm welcome with a traditional dance. Jagan claimed that every farmer will remember YSR whenever he switches on the motor that works the pump that provides free power for his fields.

Shoaib caught tampering with ball

Pakistan’s beleaguered cricket team was hit by yet another allegation on their ill-fated England tour, this time a UK newspaper publishing photographs to claim that fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar had tampered with the ball in the fifth and final one-dayer against England on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail published photographs of Akhtar allegedly “running his left thumb along the ball’s seam before dropping the ball on the ground and standing on it with his spiked right boot” in the 41st over of England’s inning before bowling to Paul Collingwood.

There was no reaction to the claim made by the newspaper by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday.

The end of the Pakistan tour of England has put the focus back on the outcome of the Scotland Yard investigation into illegal spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test match between Pakistan and England last month. Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer and bowler Wahab Riaz have been questioned by the Met police.

The International Cricket Council has already suspended Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer pending an inquiry.

The relationship between the two cricket teams deteriorated sharply since the first round of spot-fixing allegations surfaced.

The lowest point came when England batsman Jonathan Trott and Pakistan bowler Wahab Riaz were involved in an altercation at nets before start of the fourth one-day international at Lord’s on Monday afternoon.

Jaipal, Gill take over to clean up Kalmadi mess

In a last ditch-attempt to save the Commonwealth Games, due to start here on October 3, the Centre has finally decided to move in. Marginalising the controversial head of the Games organising committee, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, two Cabinet ministers — Mr S. Jaipal Reddy (urban development) and Mr M.S. Gill (sports) — are now expected to oversee all the preparations for the Games in the remaining time left and clean up the mess.

The snub to Mr Kalmadi became evident as neither he nor any OC member was called for a high-level meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence on Thursday evening. Those present included, besides these two Cabinet members, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, national security adviser Shivshankar Menon and Union home secretary G.K. Pillai.

It has also been decided that the Prime Minister will not meet the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Mr Michael Fennell, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday amid reports of mounting glitches surrounding Games preparations.

It has been conveyed to the Games organisers that in case Mr Fennell has any query he could meet the Cabinet Secretary, Mr K.M. Chandrashekhar, or the urban development minister.

At the meeting, Ms Sheila Dikshit was also asked to press in all available Delhi government resources to spruce up the CWG Village.

Divided SC has Ayodhya verdict put off by 5 days

As the government had its fingers crossed on the sensitive Ayodhya issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the pronouncement of the Allahabad high court judgment on the title suit by Hindus and Muslims for the ownership of the 2.77 acres of land on which the demolished Babri Masjid stood.

The interim stay was granted by a division bench comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale till September 28 despite sharp differences between them on entertaining a petition by Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, one of the parties to the suit, for deferment of the verdict.

While Justice Raveendra was not inclined to entertain the petition, saying “if in 50 years you have not been able to settle the dispute despite hundreds of opportunities, there is no reason for allowing the issue to remain as a festering wound,” but Justice Gokhale said though there might be little chance of the negotiations to succeed, “yet if there is even one per cent chance, why not it be given a try?”

“If it is postponed for some time, what is the prejudice? There may not be change in the stand of the parties, but what is the harm to give a chance. You will be the first people to blame us if there is (any) consequences (of the verdict),” Justice Gokhale told senior advocates Anoop George Chaudhary and Ravi Shankar Prasad, opposing the deferment.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

APSRTC to set right killer buses

Driving behind an APSRTC bus comes with its own perils. The APSRTC fleet is besieged with myriad problems like malfunctioning indicators and defective tail lamps that create problems on road as bus drivers often have to use hand signals which the motorists behind can’t see. Also drivers coming from the opposite direction get confused when the buses turn.

Mr T. R. S. Mukund, a senior service engineer said, “The indicator lamps don’t blink, which lead to accidents. The drivers sometimes show hand signals, but it is not possible every time to watch out for the hand.”

Mr N. Narayan Murty, a businessman said, “I travel by car and sometimes when buses take an unexpected turn it result in accidents. The accident might be a minor one but it is not safe to follow an APSRTC bus.”

Non-functioning tail lamps and brake lamps are also some of the problem areas.

A college student, Mr Narendra Reddy, said, “During the night tail lamps don’t function and you never know when the bus is going to stop. So there are chances of the vehicle behind colliding into the bus.”

Admitting to the problem, Mr Purushottam Naik, the regional manager of RTC, city region, said, “We are in the process of rectifying the problem and a special drive for lights is been carried out. In the coming few days things are going to be fine.”

Other problems have also surfaced regarding fitness tests, pollution control and braking system.

Responding to the cases, Mr Ravindra Babu, regional manager for Ranga Reddy region, said, “The APSRTC conducts fitness tests on all buses every year and a smoke test every month. We are ensuring that all buses meet the standards. We are also focusing on the braking system,” he added.

Laddu ‘fixing’ mars auction

The auction of the popular Balapur Ganesh laddu held in Balapur village of Ranga Reddy district on Wednesday was marred by allegations of “laddu-fixing”.

Though the auction fetched a record `5.35 lakh for the 21-kg laddu — `25,000 more than the successful bid amount last year — Ms G. Saritha, a city-based realtor, alleged that the laddu was given to the second-highest bidder. She said that she had bid `3.5 lakh and was willing to go even higher.

Mr Kodali Sreedhar, a resident of Miyapur and native of Bodhan in Niamabad district, was declared the winner of the auction by Balapur Ganesh Utsav Samithi President Mr K. Niranjan Reddy. “It’s a dream-come-true for me. For the past 20 years, it had been my dream to bid and win this auspicious laddu. I am happy and pray to Lord Vinayaka that he blesses us all with health, wealth and success,” said Mr Sreedhar, who heads a private travel agency.

Ms Saritha contested the decision of the organisers to announce Mr Sreedhar as the winner. “I bid `5.5 lakh and was willing to bid higher. But I was shocked that the auctioneers announced the name of one Mr Kodali Sreedhar as the winner for `5.35 lakh. They did it deliberately though I was bidding right there at the spot. It is clear that the Balapur Ganesh Utsav Samithi had finalised the name of the winner of the auspicious laddu even before the auction began,” she complained.

Let’s have a T-party, TRS chief tells CEOs

Adopting a suave avatar, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, on Wednesday gave a pep-talk to industry captains nervous about the state’s bifurcation and promised to roll out the red carpet for them in the proposed Telangana.

Making a power point presentation at the closed-door interactive session organised by the International Market Assessment’s (IMA) India CEO Forum, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao asked top executives of over 100 firms not to be unduly perturbed by the present volatile situation.

“The suspense will end soon,” he said. “Telangana, with its decentralised administrative setup and committed political will, aided with vast wealth of natural resources and human resources, will emerge as strong economic hub of the country. The development will go beyond Hyderabad.”

CEOs of DuPont India, Apollo Hospitals, SKS Micro Finance and dozens of other firms were all attention as Mr Chandrasekhar Rao made a strong pitch for Telangana as an international investment destination.

The TRS leader said Telangana was not a new state but one that was being “reinstated”. “Much before the forceful merger with Andhra region, Telangana already had an atmosphere and economic infrastructure conducive to industrialisation,” he reminded. “Hyderabad as capital of Telangana will continue to build and progress further. There need not be any apprehensions regarding this.”

He cleverly downplayed comparisons with Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand and pointed out that unlike them, Telangana had been exposed to industrialisation right from the Nizam’s era.

The short-sightedness, lethargy and corruption of successive governments had resulted in the State not realising its full industrial potential compared to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, he said.

“When Tata Motors decided to leave West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh had a golden opportunity to start a major automotive manufacturing unit here but before the elephant (AP government) could even move, the eagle (Gujarat and its Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi) grabbed the opportunity,’’ he said, raising laughter among the CEOs.

When business leaders asked him about the likely situation after December 31, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao said he expected the the Srikrishna Commission to re-launch the process to carve out Telangana.

“If not, a strong agitation would be inevitable,” he said, while urging CEOs to take a long-term view.

CWG false ceiling crashes

Adding more disgrace to India’s attempts at holding the Commonwealth Games, a day after the footbridge collapsed near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday, a false ceiling at the newly-constructed weightlifting stadium at the same venue also partially caved in on Wednesday morning.

Thankfully, however, there were no injuries in the incident which took place at 8 am while a joint team of Delhi government and CWG organising committee officials were inspecting the venue. As India’s image continues to take a hit globally over the Games, the president of the CWG Federation, Mr Michael Fennell, is making an emergency visit to New Delhi on Thursday. He is expected to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to save the Games.

2 teachers in the dock for kids’ abuse

A Telugu teacher of Bengarupalem village near Tirupati faced the wrath of students for misbehaving with a Class IX girl student while villagers conducted a rasta roko in Nizamabad after the principal of a private school thrashed a Class II student giving him bleeding injuries.

Subramanyam, 46, Telugu teacher of ZP High School in Bangarupalem asked the girl student to stay back when she was about to go home for lunch.

The girl entered the vacant classroom. But the teacher caught her from behind and started fondling her. The frightened girl shrieked and escaped the teacher’s embrace. She ran to the staff room and complained to other teachers.

Some of the teachers allegedly tried to hush up the incident but the agitated girl rushed home and brought her parents.

Students and parents gathered in the school compound and attacked the teacher. When he tried to flee, the mob caught hold of him and handed him over the police. The police took him into custody and started an investigation.

Meanwhile, the residents of Tekrial village in Kamareddy mandal of Nizamabad staged a three-hour rasta-roko after Mr Anjaneyulu, principal of New Sadhana High School at Kamareddy, mercilessly thrashed an eight-year-old student, Balu. He suffered severe injuries. Sources said that Balu had gone out of the school bus on Monday morning to relieve himself. The bus sped off without him and he arrived late in school. For this “crime”, Anjaneyulu called the boy to his room on Tuesday and beat him with a ruler as punishment.

The boy suffered severe injuries and bled. His angry parents, accompanied by other villagers, staged a rasta roko demanding that the principal be handed over to them. ABVP leaders joined the protest and demanded action against the principal.

MPs want cut in Kashmir troops

The Centre is expected to consider significant reduction of security personnel in civilian areas in Kashmir after the all-party delegation, which returned to the Capital on Wednesday after a two day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, submits its report to the Union home ministry.

The government sources disclosed that majority of the political parties took the view that there is a need for “visible” reduction of security forces especially in residential areas within the Valley to stop the alienation of people. This seems to have emerged as the topmost priority for the Centre which is keen to initiate confidence building measures to stem the crisis.

Sources said that a decision on dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is unlikely to happen anytime soon. However, a redeployment of security forces in the Valley is on the cards.

The all-party delegation is expected to meet again in the Capital to evolve a response which can then be placed before the home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram. The home ministry is expected to take the proposals of the all-party delegation to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for a final view.

Government sources said the parleys between the leaders of national parties and the separatists in the Valley has been a “positive” development.

“While the political outfits’ demand for a dialogue with tall sections and political forces in J&K has been met, the separatists on their part cannot complain that their views have not been heard,” an official said.

The delegation has heard views of the people and both sides are satisfied with the discussions, he added.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teacher breaks student’s hand

A woman physical education teacher thrashed two Class X students breaking the arm of one of them and bruising the finger of the other at a Zilla Parishad government high school at Siddarampuram on Saturday.

The news came to light only on Monday when angry parents staged a protest in front of school demanding the teacher’s suspension. Sources said that Ms K. Anitha, a newly-appointed physical education teacher, had asked her students to take part in a drill on Saturday.

However, the two students, A. Harish and Y. Suresh of S. Kondapuram, requested her to excuse them saying that they were ill. This provoked the teacher who thrashed them mercilessly. When the terrified students reached home, the parents found that Harish had a fracture in his arm and Suresh was nursing a wound on his finger.

Though the parents went to school to question the teacher on Saturday evening, she had left by then. The parents then took the boys to the local doctor for treatment.

5 MPs fuelled T fire, say mantris

A group of ministers from Telangana on Monday made a scathing attack on five Congress MPs from the region, terming them agents of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

The ministers, Mr D. Nagender, Mr M. Mukesh Goud and Mr D. Rajanarasimha said the MPs Mr Madhu Yashki, Mr G. Sukhender Reddy, Mr M. Jagannadham, Mr G. Vivekananda and Mr S. Satyanarayana were implementing the agenda of the TRS and damaging the interests of the Congress.

Sources said the ministers raised the issue in the Cabinet and urged the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah rein in the MPs. Otherwise they would be left with no choice but to bring to the notice of the high command the “highly undisciplined and objectionable” behaviour of the MPs, said the ministers.

Mr Rosaiah agreed with the concerns expressed by the ministers and said that party leaders should abide by the high command’s decision to leave the Telangana issue to Justice Srikrishna panel and behave as representatives of the entire state till the Centre took a decision.

Mr Goud said these MPs had either “descended from abroad” like Mr Yashki or defected from the TD.

MPs reach out to top Kashmir separatists

The separatist Hurriyat leaders may have wanted to have nothing to do with the visiting all-party delegation led by the Union home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, having announced their decision to not meet it.

But all didn’t seem lost as some delegation members reached out to both Hurriyat hardliner, Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani, as also its moderate face, Mr Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and met them within hours of landing here.

And thus were taken a few tentative but significant steps in at least trying to have some sort of engagement with the separatists and also the moderates during the extremely troubled times that the Kashmir Valley has been witnessing over the last three months.

Over 100 people have died in the Valley since early June, a majority of them young boys in their teens even as violence in the Valley continues unabated. Some delegation members also called on the JKLF chief, Mr Yasin Malik, who too had declared on Monday morning that he would not meet the all-party team.

While the PDP leader, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, stayed away from the meeting, a delegation from her party did go and demanded “out-of-the-box thinking” to resolve the Kashmir problem.

Earlier, the 39-member delegation led by Mr Chidambaram arrived here on Monday in what is being touted as a bid by the political class to ascertain the ground situation in the turmoil-ridden Kashmir Valley.

The delegation probably had the first taste of the situation as it travelled through deserted streets of curfew-bound Srinagar.

While the Hurriyat hawk, Mr Geelani had announced his decision to not participate in the all-party meeting some days ago, Mr Mirwaiz had announced it only on Monday morning along with Mr Yasin Malik, both having got the invitation only on Sunday evening.

Ironically, both Mr Geelani and Mr Mirwaiz are now under house arrest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

City, Delhi put on high alert

The city has been put on high alert following the shooting incident near Jama Masjid in Delhi in which two Taiwanese nationals were injured.

After Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility of the attack, the Commissioner of Police, Mr A.K. Khan, reviewed the security arrangements with the top police officers and anti-sabotage checks were intensified at Ganesh pandals.

“Since the Ganesh festival is on and the immersions are scheduled for September 22, we are taking no chances. There is a country-wide alert issued for the Commonwealth Games. Indian Mujahideen (IM) had also carried out the twin explosions in the city. So we have to be alert,” said an official of state Intelligence department. IM stated in an e-mail that Sunday’s incident was a revenge for the Kashmir killings by security forces and the Batla House encounter.

The police also said IM might have recruited many new cadres across the country and Hyderabad was not being ruled out as a recruiting ground.

KCR twists T-line on jobs for locals

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, turned the T-line upside down, stating that everyone born in Telangana would have all rights to government jobs when the region gets statehood.

The new diktat means that a child of a person belonging to either Andhra or Rayalaseema will be considered a Telanganite if he is born in the region.

This is seen as a deviation from the stand of pro-statehood parties which defined a Telanganite as a person who belongs to the region.

Faced with protests from pro-statehood parties, Mr Rao said he would “give his life” to support his stand.

Participating in a TV debate late on Saturday night, Mr Rao declared that those born in Telangana would have all rights to jobs and political posts in the new state. He called those opposing his new view as “fools” and “idiots”.

Telangana lawyers and different joint action committees were not amused by this sudden deviation by the TRS chief.

Some statehood units have threatened to stage protests to force Mr Rao to abandon his stand.

During their recent agitation, Telangana lawyers had been demanding that the government remove some names from the list of Telangana law officers, alleging that they had come from other regions long back and had settled here, and therefore could not be treated as Telangana locals.

This had started a debate on who is an “original” Telanganite, and who is not.

Militants fire at tourists in Delhi, set off bomb in car, spread CWG scare

With the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony exactly a fortnight away, an already security-conscious Delhi received a sudden scare on Sunday morning with two unidentified men on a motorcycle firing several rounds at a stationary minibus carrying several foreigners close to Gate No. 3 of the historic Jama Masjid in the walled city.

Two of them, identified as Taiwanese nationals, were injured in the firing, and one is in critical condition in hospital.

A red alert has been sounded across Delhi following the incident.

The Union home ministry is closely monitoring the situation, and the Delhi police and the intelligence agencies have swung into action to identify those responsible.

The motorcycle has been traced to one Yatinder, a resident of Nangloi.

Three hours later, a Maruti 800 went up in flames when a “crudely-circuited” pressure cooker bomb exploded metres away from Jama Masjid, but luckily no one was injured.

The owner of the car, Bobby, and the motorcycle owner, Yatinder, have been detained for questioning. The gunmen are yet to be apprehended.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Justice Reddy quits, court to crush T-stir

As the Andhra Pradesh High Court descended to chaos with the advocates coming to blows in courtrooms, a pained Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy on Thursday offered to step down from his post.

Justice Nagarjuna Reddy has been taking flak for mishandling the violent agitation by Telangana advocates in the absence of Chief Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakru. Fellow judges criticised him when they met on Wednesday to take stock of the situation in the wake of the indefinite fast by Telangana advocates demanding regional quota in postings.

Sources said the Judge submitted his resignation letter in the full court meeting called by Chief Justice Kakru, who reached the city after cutting short his leave on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. The meeting unanimously resolved to deal the situation with an iron hand.

Expressing anguish at the way the situation had developed, Justice Nagarjuna Reddy told the CJ that he wanted to quit the post and requested that his resignation be forwarded to the President. However, Justice Kakru did not accept the resignation and assured he would look into the matter.

In his resignation letter Justice Nagarjuna Reddy said he was disturbed at the happenings in the court in the last three days and pointed out that innocent advocates suffered from attacks by anti-social elements.

Meanwhile, the full court decided to identify the persons involved in the obstruction of the proceedings of the court on September 14, 15 and 16 and take appropriate criminal and civil action. Miscreants who damaged the High Court’s property would also be punished.

It also constituted committee with five judges to frame rules to regulate the conduct of advocates in courts and resolved not to allow any kind of processions, dharnas, rallies and slogans on the court premises and to handle any violation by taking stern action.

Bookie claims all Pak-England Tests were fixed

Law enforcement agencies here are searching for an unidentified bookmaker, who appeared on a television show and claimed that all the Tests between Pakistan and England last month were fixed.

The bookmaker, whose face was hidden, appeared in a talk show and claimed that there are two yet-to-be-caught players present in the Pakistan team who had been involved in match-fixing in the past.

The bookmaker also claimed that players were purchased by big bookmakers for bigger

His claims come amid the raging controversy of alleged spot-fixing by the suspended
Pakistani trio of Test skipper Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir during
the same series.

Reliable source said soon after the interview of the bookmaker was aired, the law
enforcement agencies got into action and were trying to locate and identify the man.

"The police and FIA are making inquiries about the man who has gone into hiding now.
He is a bookmaker from Karachi," a source told PTI.

The bookmaker also alleged that some well-known players in the past had been involved
in fixing matches and took the names of two top spinners and an opening batsman.

"It is a wrong impression that fixing deals are done on mobiles. Majority of the business
is done on landline numbers and rates for spot fixing and match fixing are initiated from England," he claimed.

"India is the biggest market for bookmakers and spot fixing is done the most in India," he added.

He claimed that when fixing was done, selected bookmakers made a killing by knowing
in advance which player will perform in what way.

"It is called player fixing and players are brought for heavy sums."

He also made the startling allegation that there were agents working on behalf of officials in the cricket board who were also making money out of fixed matches and spot fixing.

He said top bookmakers operated through agents who lured and coordinated with

A former senior player, when contacted, said it was hard to give credence to the man's
claims as he was not identified at any stage.

"If he is telling the truth then it is for the law enforcement agencies to locate him and arrest him and get information out of him."

India, Pak, Afghanistan and 17 others on US' drug 'Major List'

The US President, Mr Barack Obama, has identified India, Pakistan and Afghanistan,
and 17 other countries as a major drug transit or a major illicit drug- producing nations of the world. The other countries on the list includes the Bahamas, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. A country's presence on the 'Majors List' is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government's counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States, President Obama said in a memorandum sent to the Secretary of State in this regard. "One of the reasons that major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of
geographic, commercial and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced
despite the concerned government's most assiduous enforcement measures," the
President said. Mr Obama designated Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that
have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations
under international counter-narcotics agreements. However, he continued support for
bilateral programs in Bolivia and limited programs in Venezuela arguing that these are
vital to the national interests of the US. In his memorandum, Mr Obama notes that
Afghanistan continues to be the world's largest producer of opium poppies and a major
source of heroin. While the country has been making progress in reduction of poppy
cultivation, Obama said, the country must demonstrate even greater political will and
programmatic effort to combat opium trafficking and production nationwide. "Although Brazil no longer qualifies as a major drug transit country to the US, narcotics control in this country which occupies such a large landmass in the hemisphere is of serious concern," he said, adding drug traffickers continue to move significant quantities of cocaine through West Africa.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

AP refutes T-lawyers’ allegations

Clearing doubts about the alleged irregularities in law officers’ postings, the state information minister, Dr Geeta Reddy, said lawyers from the Telangana region got the majority of the posts.

Refuting allegations that injustice was meted out to the region in appointing of law officers, Dr Reddy released statistics of region-wise appointments.

Of 39 government pleader posts, Andhra got 13, Telangana 18 and Rayalaseema 8.

Of the 72 assistant government pleader posts, Andhra region got 26, Telangana 33 and Rayalaseema 13.

Of the 132 standing counsel posts, only 59 were filled up till date of which 26 went to the Telangana region while Andhra got only 16 and Rayalaseema 17.

“The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, appointed Mr Deshpande on Tuesday as Public Prosecutor. He is from Adilabad. There is no truth in allegations that Telangana was neglected,” she said.

The minister for law, Mr M. Venkata Ramana, pointed out that the government would give equal representation to the three regions while posting additional advocate general.

The minister requested the lawyers to maintain restrain and uphold professional values.

The Cabinet sub-committee comprising law, information and forest ministers had met on September 7 to discuss the alleged irregularities in postings of law officers and found there were no such instances.

“The committee invited Telangana lawyers and their office bearers to talk. There were no irregularities in the appointments, and if Telangana lawyers have any information proving otherwise, they can submit it to the committee. We are ready to look into it,” said Dr Geeta Reddy.

High Court under T siege, judges attacked

The atmosphere at the Andhra Pradesh High Court was highly charged on Wednesday as Telangana lawyers went on a rampage following a boycott call given by the Telangana Advocates’ Joint Action Committee.

A division Bench described the incident as a Constitutional breakdown as agitators damaged furniture and equipment in the court halls, including the Registrar-General’s chamber. They did not even spare the judges and hurled law books and placards at the Benches.

Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao and two members of his personal staff sustained injuries when the agitators hurled the All India Law Reporter books at the Bench.

A bench comprising of Justices V. Eswaraiah and Noushad Ali directing the Chief Secretary, DGP and the city police commissioner to take immediate steps to maintain law and order. Sources said the judges passed a four-page order in their chamber and sent it to the registrar with an instruction to communicate it to the authorities. To make matter worse, prominent Telangana Rashtra Samiti leaders also reached the High Court to express their solidarity and support to the agitating lawyers.

JNTU lecturer accused of harassment

The situation was tense at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University College on Wednesday following allegations of sexual harassment against Fine Arts HoD of Painting, Mr Stanley Suresh. The students staged a dharna on the premises and lodged a complaint at the Humayun Nagar police station.

According to sources, students walked out of the classes and staged a dharna at around 11.30 am on Wednesday. They alleged that Mr Suresh had been molesting girls and harassing boys by sending them out of the class if they talked with the girls.

“Some of the students gave a representation. However, they have mentioned that he was previously involved in several cases, but didn’t mention any recent ones. They stated that several girls had dropped out of the college as they were unable to endure his torture,” said Humayun Nagar PI, Mr P. Madhukar Reddy.

Sohrabuddin case witness faked shootout, friend questioned: Police

Azam Khan, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing, tried to fabricate a story about an attempt on his life by shooting himself in the shoulder, say police. He, his friend and cousin are being questioned.

Khan, who had given evidence in the killing of Tulsiram Prajapati — a witness to the alleged staged shootout of Sohrabuddin, had on Tuesday claimed that "masked gunmen on motorcycles" attacked him while he was driving his car. He had sustained injuries in the right palm and shoulder.

His friend Iqbal who was with Khan told police during interrogation that Khan had fabricated the story about an attempt on his life.

Khan shot himself to come into limelight and seek police protection, police say.

"Our investigations reveal that Khan fired at himself and requested Iqbal to cook up a fake story," a senior police official said on the condition of anonymity.

Khan told Iqbal about the plan before the incident, police said.

After shooting himself he asked Iqbal to inform police that two unidentified people had attacked him and also sought the help of his cousin to dispose of the weapon, police say.

Police say there were different versions by Iqbal and Khan about the incident. Police have also failed to recover the weapon used in the attack.

"There was no witness to the incident, which is surprising," official added. "We are questioning Khan, his cousin and Iqbal."

Prajapati was killed in an alleged staged shootout in Gujarat's Banaskantha district Dec 28, 2006, over a year after Sohrabuddin was killed on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SBI may extend teaser rates again

The country’s largest lender State Bank of India may extend its popular teaser rate scheme for home loans, which is scheduled to expire on September 30. Under this scheme, borrowers get home loans at a cheaper rate for the first few years.

According to SBI managing director, Mr S.K. Bhattacharyya, “We are getting an overwhelming response for home loans. It is a very good scheme. We feel that the eight per cent rate of interest on home loans is viable and that’s why it has been continued.”

When asked if the scheme would be extend further after September 30, the SBI managing director retorted back: “Why should we not continue it?”

Mr Bhattacharyya was speaking on the sidelines of a programme organised by Ficci here on Monday.

Under the current terms and conditions, SBI charges eight per cent on all home loans for the first year. For the next two years, the interest rate is nine per cent. This means that on a Rs 20 lakh loan with a life of 20 years, your monthly instalment will work out to about Rs 16,700 for the first year. For the second year, it will Rs 17,995.

Mr Bhattacharyya, however, also made it clear that the final call would be taken by SBI’s ALCO meeting in the next few days.

He said that SBI plans to earn 20 per cent of its income from overseas operations by 2013.

I was duped, claims hameed

Pakistan cricketer Yasir Hameed, whose interview with News of the World tabloid created another controversy for his country, claimed late on Sunday night that he was duped into making match-fixing claims against his teammates.

Hameed, who met Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt and high commissioner Wajed Shamsul Hasan on Sunday, said he was approached by a man who he believed was offering him a sponsorship deal and did not know the conversation was being recorded.

“When I was having dinner with a friend at the Holiday Inn Nottingham on the evening of Monday August 30, 2010, I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etihad Airways,” Hameed said.

Hameed said he had only now discovered the man was the News of the World’s investigating editor Mazher Mahmood.

He claimed that the person, who identified himself as Abid Khan, had recorded their “conversation without me knowing about it.”

“Naturally, I was interested in what he had to say and we began a conversation,” Hameed said in a three-page statement here.

“He offered me at least £50,000 for the deal.”

Hameed said the man, who identified himself as Abid Khan, asked for the names of four more Pakistan players who may be interested in a similar deal and then asked him about the match-fixing allegations.

“As I saw him as a friend and a potential agent I naively started to answer his questions,” Hameed said. “As far as I recall, I only told him whatever I had already read in the newspapers about the matter,” said Hameed, who had initially denied giving any interview to the tabloid.

He said the chat “was largely inaccurately reported in the News of the World.”

The cricketer, who is under immense pressure for claiming that almost every game was fixed, said that the tabloid tried to bribe him to implicate his colleagues, skipper Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, in match-fixing.

“It seems that Abid had a hidden camera which I was totally unaware of. Two days later Abid then called me and offered me £25,000 to give a statement against the three current players under investigation, which I immediately refused and put the phone down,” he said.

He said that the tabloid had also tried to intimidate him over the issue. “Subsequently, I received a text message from Abid Khan from his number 078 6010 9876, which I found to be intimidating,” he said.

The text message that Hameed received revealed: “Pls call me. Incidentally you are in video drinking wine and saying all the quotes attributed to you. Denying it is just stupid as we will be releasing the video to tv. Better that you stand up and speak the truth!!!!”

Hameed said that he did not react to this message at all and contacted the cricket board officials. “However, I decided not to respond or react. I brought the matter to the attention of Pakistan Cricket Board,” his statement added.

Yasir Hameed
I was having dinner with a friend at the Holiday Inn Nottingham on August 30, 2010, when I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etihad Airways.

Blaze hits landmark Madina Hotel

The first floor of the 60-year-old Madina Hotel, a city landmark, was damaged in a major fire that broke out in a store adjacent to it on Monday morning.

The flames engulfed the store and gutted the New Madina Bag Works at Patthar Gatti in Charminar. By the time fire engines rushed to the spot the flames spread to the first floor of the Madina hotel, famous for its biryani, tea and, in this season, haleem.

Four fire tenders battled the flames for one-and-a-half hours before they contained the fire.

The traffic jam caused by a crowd of disaster tourists prevented the fire brigade from reaching the area in time.

A fire engine stationed at the High Court complex 500 metres was not deployed. Another from the Moghalpura fire station took over an hour to reach the spot.

The hotel stands at one of the busiest intersections in the old city, and traffic was jammed for two hours.

Police and fire department officials suspect that the fire was triggered at 11 am by a short circuit.

Nobody was injured as the fire started moments after the shops had opened for the day.

Mr G.V. Raghu, GHMC chief city planner, said he had asked officials to inspect the structural stability of the hotel. Any decision on the future of the hotel will be taken after he receives the report. “It is not in the list of historical monuments,” he said.

Congress MPs fight over Group-I exams September 7th, 2010

The Congress MPs from different regions on Monday started to settle scores on the controversial Group-1 prelims conducted by APPSC on Sunday.

The senior Congress MP from Anantapur, Mr Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, said Seema Andhra Congress MPs would meet on September 9 in Hyderabad and complain to the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, against the rude behaviour of Congress MPs from the Telangana region.

Mr Venkatarami Reddy told mediapersons that the Telangana MPs defied government rules and tried to prevent the exam. “They also criticised the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, and tried to destabilise the government,” he said.

The MP said that despite pledging loyalty to Mrs Gandhi, they had joined hands with parties that were anti-Congress. He also said he had definite information about the Telangana Congress MPs who had helped the TRS win the bypolls.

The Vijayawada MP, Mr Lagadapati Rajagopal, also addressed a media conference in the evening and appealed to all sections of the people not to fall prey to the disinformation campaign launched by ‘vested interest’ groups.

He said some people wanted to create rift among different regions in the name of alleged injustice to the Telangana region.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Congress MPs had a dinner meeting at the residence of Pedapalli MP, Mr G. Vivek, on Monday night and decided to write to Mrs Sonia Gandhi to direct the CM to cancel the exam.

PM lays down policy rekha for judges

Days after the Supreme Court rapped the Centre for not distributing free foodgrains to the poor, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said the apex court should not get into “the realm of policy formulation”.

Dr Singh’s response came during an interaction with newspaper editors at his 7 Race Course Road residence here on Monday.

The court’s directive came last week when the food minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, got a rap on his knuckles for stating that its order on distribution of free foodgrains to the poor, instead of allowing it to rot, was difficult to implement.

On Monday, Dr Singh rose to Mr Pawar’s defence, saying where policy issues are concerned these should “remain the concern of policymakers and the government of the day”. Stating that he respected the “sentiments” behind the SC directive, Dr Singh asked how free foodgrains could be distributed to 37 per cent of the population which lives below the poverty line.

He asserted it is not possible to provide free foodgrains. The PM pointed out that providing free foodgrains would destroy the incentive that farmers have to produce more. If there were no foodgrains available, there would be nothing to distribute.

He said: “I do recognise that food should be available to people below the poverty line at concessional prices. We have not allowed any increase in the issue price of foodgrains to people below the poverty line since 2004.”

Republicans talk about me like a dog, says Obama

US President, Mr Barack Obama, has caused quite a flutter by accusing his Republican opponents of talking about him "like a dog" at a rally to launch his embattled Democratic party's election campaign.

"Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time and they're not always happy with me," he said addressing a union crowd on
Labour Day on Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"They talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks, but it's true," he told
the union crowd straying from his prepared remarks to take a more aggressive tone in
campaign mode.

"They're betting that between now and November, you'll (voters) come down with a case of amnesia," Mr Obama said in the speech less than two months ahead of midterm
elections where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are on stake.

"They (Republicans) think you'll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think
you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped
devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they're asking
you for the keys back," he said with some bitterness, alluding to the recent tirade
launched against him by his critics.

Day-long strike hits life in WB, Kerala

Workers affiliated to central trade unions on Tuesday went on a day-long industrial strike across the country to protest against price rise, alleged violation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs disrupting normal life in Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala. Elsewhere, life remained unaffected by the strike which comes two months after a nation-wide bandh called by BJP and Left parties against the UPA Government's economic policies and the spiralling prices. Workers from sectors including coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port and dock, road transport, petroleum and construction are participating in the countrywide strike under the banner of AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC and Congress-affiliated INTUC. Bank employees, mainly belonging to public sector, cooperative and rural banks, joined the strike opposing FDI in the banking sector and grant of licences to private banks. The strike disrupted flight operations and road transport and business and industries in West Bengal and Kerala. The call for the strike was given by Coordination Committee of the Central Trade Unions of which INTUC president, Mr G. Sanjeeva Reddy, is the convener. "Strike has begun all over the country. Those employed in private sector are also participating the strike in many places," AITUC general secretary and CPI MP, Mr Gurudas Dasgupta, said. Normal life was hit in West Bengal and Kerala with air and road transport remaining disrupted in the wake of the strike call which took the shape of a bandh in the two Left-ruled states. Flight operations to and from Kolkata were crippled as private airlines including Kingfisher, Indigo, Jet Airways and Spicejet together cancelled nearly 80 flights. However, Air India sources in Kolkata said their flight operations remained normal with the airline operating eight flights in the morning after the strike began. In Kerala, the strike was total in transport sector with buses, trucks and taxis keeping off the roads. However, the protest did not affect public utilities like power and water supply. Trains were also running without any disruption. In Tamil Nadu, the day-long strike evoked lukewarm response as normal life remained unaffected. But, flight services on the Chennai-Kolkata route were hit as six flights were cancelled. In a five-point charter, Trade unions have also demanded that disinvestment in public sectors be stopped and substantial investment for social security in the unorganised sector be made.

Monday, September 6, 2010

APPSC chief is leak leader, says KCR

The TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, branded the APPSC chairman, Mr Venkatarami Reddy, a “useless fellow” and “a leader of leaks”, and demanded the cancellation of Group-1 prelims in the wake of a reported question paper “leak”.

“Nowhere in the world are exams conducted at gun-point and by locking up exam centres. If the government does not cancel them the consequences will be severe. We are also examining legal options to force a cancellation,” said KCR.

“What great hurry is there for the government and APPSC for conducting the exam when the latter actually postponed the same twice earlier?” he asked.

OGH to get first emergency team

Osmania General Hospital will have India’s first Emergency Medicine Department recognised by the Medical Council of India, by the first quarter of 2011.

Besides the 60-bed EMD, trained emergency super-specialists (Code Blue Team) will be available 24x7 to attend to emergency cases within the crucial “golden hour”.

“Many more lives can be saved if an EMD is established in government hospitals which receive the maximum number of emergency patients – as many as 200 on some days,” said Dr Zafar Hashmi, resident medical officer and civil assistant surgeon at OGH.

The EMD includes a Code Blue Response Team consisting of a cardiologist, a nurse, a guard, an anaesthetist and an electrician.

Qualified emergency specialists holding an MD in emergency medicine will attend to patients within the first 10-60 minutes of any mishap and the gravity of the situation can be identified immediately. As a result of zero waiting and attending time and zero negligence, more emergency patients can be saved, says Dr Chandra Sheker, head of the department of anaesthesiology and critical care at OGH.

Emergency medicine is considered important enough to be integrated into the medical syllabus. Discussions have already been held with the vice chancellor of NTR University to develop it as an academic discipline. Dr Chandra Sheker has been appointed by the Academic Council to draft the curriculum.

Politicians eye hydel projects

After a gap of six years, the state government has decided to allow new mini hydel power projects once again and political leaders, cutting across party lines, are making a beeline to the irrigation department with a hope of bagging a few.

The mini hydel projects will come up on irrigation projects that have been completed over the last six years under Jalayagnam and the irrigation wing has decided to open major canals for setting up the mini hydel projects with capacities ranging from 0.5 mw to 5 mw.

The allocation of mini hydel projects had first started during Mr Chandrababu Naidu’s regime and had proved to be very profitable for those who had got licenses.

At that time the list of licensees included a former chief minister, a home minister and senior ministers and several public representatives. But when Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy took charge in 2004, he directed officials to stop new allotments.

Now with the irrigation department planning to open the canals for hydel power generation once again, political leaders are again showing an interest.

“We have constituted a committee to examine the issue. We have not taken a decision on this but will do so once the committee submits its report,” said irrigation secretary Mr Adityanath Das.

On an average, a single mega watt-capacity mini hydel project will generate revenues of around Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore for the promoters.

Some leaders met officials of APGenco and the irrigation department enquiring about the probable places where the mini hydel projects might come up.

There are as many as 11 mini hydel projects on the Nagarjuna Sagar right canal and political leaders are now eying the left canal of the project.

“In the last six years no new project was sanctioned and some projects were even cancelled. New projects will certainly increase power generation in the state,” said an MP who is in the race for a hydel project.

74 matches to pep up IPL show

The Indian Premier League governing council on Sunday unveiled a heavily-modified schedule for the 2011 season, diluting the existing home-and-away format for the games to make up for the addition of two new teams to the competition.

The 10 IPL franchises will be divided into two groups of five for the next three years with a total of 74 matches per season compared to 60 played this year.

In the new format, each team will play the other four in their group home and away, which means the league stage will consist of 40 matches. The three top teams from each group will then progress into another round of home and away matches, which will comprise 30 games, followed by the semi-finals, a third-place playoff and a final.

The 2011 season is tentatively scheduled to begin on April 2, five days after the World Cup ends.

Despite the change in scheduling, teams will get to play 14 home and away games — as they’ve been doing for the past three years — although in a slightly convoluted format. However, had the current format adopted as it is, the IPL-4 would have stretched to 94 matches.

Hameed blows the lid, says all matches fixed

Pakistan cricketer Yasir Hameed was on Sunday afternoon questioned at his country’s high commission in central London after a newspaper published details of an interview in which the opening batsman had claimed other Pakistani cricketers were involved in widespread match-fixing. The scandal, meanwhile, continued to grow bigger with reports emerging of a Sri Lankan player’s involvement as well.

Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt, high commissioner Wajed Shamsul Hasan and other senior officials questioned Hameed for more than two hours on Sunday, but they did not talk to the media or issue any statement on the fresh allegations against Pakistani cricketers made by the News of The World, a weekly tabloid.

Hameed, wearing jeans and a brown leather jacket, was summoned to the Pakistan high commission and reached at 2.30 pm, but it seems he was whisked out secretly from there as there was no sign of him there after 5.30 pm.

There was speculation that the remainder of Pakistan’s tour of England may be called off but no official confirmation till the time of going to press. The situation was expected to be clearer only after the meeting at the Pakistan high commission gave over.

Rosaiah passes PSC test amidst T-storm

The Rosaiah government heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday as the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) Group-I prelims went off without any major glitches.

The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, had been under pressure from various quarters, including own party legislators and ministers, to put off the prelims but barring stray incidents of violence, the exams, opposed vehemently by the Osmania University Joint Action Committee and various Telangana outfits and equivocally supported by the Seema-Andhra region, went off peacefully.

However, sporadic protests and heavy security marked the exam in Telangana districts. The exam centre in the B.Ed College at OU saw agitation as Telangana students managed to enter the hall, burn question papers and break windows. Some Congress MPs made the situation worse when they violated Section 144 and entered the OU campus.

The students also “leaked” the question paper by reading it out in front of the media.

The TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, demanded the cancellation of Group-1 prelims in the wake of a reported question paper “leak”.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Girl getting better, opening eyes

The doctors at OGH, who examied a girl who was declared ‘brain dead,’ said they had found her moving when she was brought in.

“After examining her condition, we realised that the girl was not brain dead. We found slight movements in her body. We put her on anti-venom and other medication. She is now on ventilator support. Her condition is improving and she is opening her eyes,” added Dr Sheker, who, along with his team is treating the teen.

“The doctors at the hospital in Nalgonda said there was nothing more to do and told us to pray to God. But we didn’t give up and brought her to Hyderabad,” said Ms Swaroopa’s, father Mr Ram Singh, a watchman.

Though still on ventilator-support, doctors feel there’s a fair chance of Ms Swaroopa’s survival. She, however, has to be in the respiratory intensive care unit for at least the next two to three days. But her case looks “hopeful,” OG doctors said.

It is suspected that the girl was declared “brain dead” so that her organs could be harvested, which has become a thriving medical business these days. As to whether Swaroopa’s case was a deliberate attempt for organ harvesting by the private hospital, OGH authorities refused to comment.

Drunk, mentally-ill man kills six without motive

Central Zone police arrested a psychopathic killer who murdered six persons in areas under the Narayanaguda, Nallakunta and Saifabad police station limits in the last six months.

The accused, Rama Chandra Rathore, 55, is a native of Gulbarga district in Karnataka. “He used to commit murders under the influence of alcohol and had no motive behind the killings,” said City Police Commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan.

The police said Rathore assaulted Y. Krishna Yadav, a 60-year-old watchman with a boulder on July 2. Krishna died while undergoing treatment in a private hospital. On July 7, he attacked G. Gopal, 60, and Anjaneya Manga 35, at Padma Colony in Nallakunta, while they were sleeping, and killed them.

On July 12, he murdered L. Tarun, 28, a supplier, in a hotel at Narayanaguda and killed a security guard, Ashok Kumar Jha, 45, on August 1 in Khairatabad. On August 28, he hurled a boulder at B. Naresh, a 19-year-old student from Barkatpura, killing him.

“After killing Naresh, Rathore took his cell phone and sold it to a person in the city. The police trapped the person to whom the cell phone was sold and from him got a description of Rama Chandra Rathore. As one of the vagabonds told us that he belongs to Gulbarga, we sent a team there and with the help of the local police were able to arrest him,” said Central Zone DCP Mr Akun Sabharwal.

“We found it very difficult to detect these six murder cases as there was no motive behind the murders,” said Mr Khan. “Rama Chandra Rathore also confessed to having committed thefts and robberies in the city and in Karnataka and Maharashtra. As similar cases were registered in Gulbarga town, we suspect Rathore’s hand behind them. However, we are investigating them,” said Mr Khan. It is learnt that Rathore, who lost his parents in childhood, was alone and mentally disturbed.

The Narayanguda police had already remanded a person in the murder case of G. Gopal and Anjaneya Manga. Mr Khan said the officials who made the arrest would be suspended if the arrested person is innocent.

KCR’s daughter plans cricket foray

The Telangana Jagruti, the cultural arm of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, is planning to make a big foray into cricket and other sports in the region to enlarge the parent party’s base.

According to sources, Telangana Jagruti, plans to establish cricket clubs in all 119 Assembly constituencies in the region. They said 12 of them will be established soon. The TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter and president of the Telangana Jagruti, Ms Kavita, has recently registered the Telangana Cricket Association and is apparently planning to make inroads into Hyderabad Cricket Association too.

Sources say that along with several other politicians, Ms Kavita is also aiming for one of the two nominated vice-president’s posts in the HCA. Though several politicians and bigwigs have their eyes set on the HCA, the recent elections have proved that the former test cricketer, Mr Shivlal Yadav’s team calls the shots in the association. Mr Yadav’s team defeated the Congress MP, Mr G. Vivekanand, and the Congress leader, Mr Kasani Gyaneshwar, in the HCA elections.

Since there are already 214 clubs under HCA, the entry of new clubs has been banned and this has become a hurdle for the TCA to get a foot-hold into HCA. Thus, in a bid to create its own lobby, T-activists now plan to float new clubs and bring pressure on HCA to accept affiliations.

Ms Kavita had met the Union agriculture minister and ICC chairman, Mr Sharad Pawar, and sought recognition of the TCA. Mr Pawar had reportedly told her that it was no easy task to get an affiliation since it involved huge funds and asked her to wait for some time. She also met BCCI vice-president, Mr Arun Jaitley, in this regard. There are also plans to float football, hockey, badminton and other sports clubs in the region.

T-parties go ahead with Sept. 5 bandh

The Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC) called for a ‘Telangana bandh’ on September 5 to thwart the attempt by the AP Public Service Commission to conduct the Group-I services preliminary exams across the state.

It also called for boycott of classes on September 4 in all the universities of the Telangana region. The Telangana Political Joint Action Committee (TPJAC) has extended support to the bandh. The TPJAC and OUJAC have been demanding 42 per cent quota for Telangana students in Group-I jobs and have threatened to disrupt the exam if APPSC goes ahead with the exam without agreeing to the demand.

However, the APPSC has decided to go ahead with the exam on September 5.

Pak defends tainted trio, hints at Indian hand in fixing saga

Pakistan High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Wajid S. Hassan, on Friday gave a new twist to the spot-fixing scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team, saying the three accused players were "innocent" and Indian bookmakers were involved in the whole murky episode.

"I found that all these three players were absolutely innocent. They were not involved, they have been taken for a ride and the agent (Mazhar Majeed) was the culprit, in the sense that he was responsible for defrauding some Asian bookies," Mr Hassan said.

"The British press says Asian but if they were from Pakistan they (British media) would have called Pakistanis, which means some Indian bookies were involved in it. This Majeed allegedly defrauded these Indian bookies and so the newspaper investigated this sort of sting operation through their sources here," he told a news channel.

Hassan's statement came even as the International Cricket Council had charged the three players — Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — with corruption offences and provisionally suspended them from all forms of the game pending a decision on the charges.

Succumbing to all round pressure, Pakistan had on Thursday dropped the tainted trio from the ODI series against England scandal but strongly defended them and vowed full support.

Refusing to accept that the three players were dropped in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, the Pakistan High Commissioner had said the trio had opted out.

"They are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further," Mr Hassan had said.

"Therefore, they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the rest of the matches until their names are cleared," he added.

Mr Hassan had also raised serious doubts on the authenticity of the News of the World's expose, saying, "What is the reputation of those people who have brought us this story?"

In an interview on BBC television, Mr Hassan had said, "We are not seeing on the video what the date is or what the time is."

"Do you have answers to these questions? The video wasn't timed or dated. It could have been filmed before or after the match, or at a different time."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

‘CM’ Geeta raises brows

The tourism minister, Ms J. Geeta Reddy’s urgent trip to Delhi on Wednesday triggered intense speculation in political corridors that she might be elevated to the post of Chief Minister or deputy Chief Minister soon.

Interestingly, the frenetic discussion on another succession saga was triggered in Congress circles on the eve of the death anniversary of the late Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.

Ms Geeta Reddy being summoned to Delhi when the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, was confined to his bed because of viral fever added spice to discussions.

However, the minister said from Delhi that the PCC chief, Mr D. Srinivas, had asked her to fly in immediately in order to sign the set of nomination papers from the state unit of the party proposing Ms Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.

“I came here since I was asked by the PCC president and nothing more should be read into it,” she said. “I will be in Delhi till Thursday afternoon and will reach the state capital by tomorrow evening to participate in the death anniversary observance of YSR.”

State kids to get health cards

All students of government schools in the state will be issued health cards with details of their medical status from October 2. They will also undergo monthly check-ups.

“Around 90 lakh students in the 5-15 age group can benefit from this scheme funded by the National Rural Health Mission and Sarvasiksha Abhiyan,” said the secretary (health and family welfare), Dr P.V.Ramesh.

Health cards issued to the students will have information on blood group, body mass index, date and details of immunisation programmes, information on supplementary nourishment and so on.

Officials said the scheme had been undertaken keeping in view the high rate of malnutrition among children and complaints about the inadequate quality of the mid-day meal.

“A cluster level medical officer will visit the schools every six months,” said Ms Anusha Bharadwaj, social development specialist (school health) from strategic planning and monitoring unit of AP health department. “Trained paramedics from PHCs will go to the schools every month to screen the children for various ailments including congenital heart diseases, asthma, dental and eye problems.”

The students would also be immunised against diphtheria and tetanus, she added. “De-worming tablets and iron and folic acid tablets for anaemia will also be given to the affected children regularly,” said Ms Bharadwaj.

School principals will keep the health cards and would also forward them regularly to the parents.

ICC quizzes ex-lover of Asif over fix proof

Pakistan skipper Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, who have been accused of spot-fixing allegations, will miss the friendly match between Pakistan and Somerset in Taunton on Thursday.

Pakistan team manager, Mr Yawar Saeed, who is in Taunton, Somerset, with the cricket team confirmed on Wednesday morning that the three cricketers had left some minutes ago for London to meet Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt and high commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan in London on Thursday. Mr Hasan was not available for any comments on Wednesday and his office said he was busy in meetings all day long.

[Meanwhile, a two-member team of the International Cricket Council anti-corruption and security unit on Wednesday questioned Mohammad Asif’s ex-girlfriend Veena Malik regarding her statement that the tainted Pakistan bowler had done spot-fixing in recent times, PTI reports from Karachi. Earlier in the day, going a step further after claiming that Asif has links with bookies, Ms Malik said the PCB all along knew about this and all national cricketers and officials are “involved in match-fixing from head to toe”. “Pakistan Cricket Board had evidence of this but no action was taken against Asif. From head to toe, Pakistani players and officials are involved in match-fixing,” Ms Malik claimed.]

Fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have been accused of deliberately bowling three no-balls during the fourth Test between Pakistan and England at Lord’s last Thursday and Friday.

Mr Saeed said the meeting had been postponed by a day and this would mean that the trio would miss the friendly match against Somerset. He, however, said they had not been dropped from the Pakistan team.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tainted out of practice

In a dramatic twist to the ‘spot-fixing’ scandal that has rocked world cricket, three tainted Pakistan players — Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif — were on Tuesday barred from practice at Taunton and asked to return to London for a meeting with top Pakistan officials.

The development came amid intense increasing pressure on the Pakistan Cricket Board from their English counterparts to take strict action against the cricketers.

Meanwhile, sources in the team are now saying that Test captain Butt was responsible for the clout that bookie and player agent Mazhar Majeed enjoyed in the team.

Asif had also reportedly told the investigators that it was Butt who had introduced Majeed to the players.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said that the three players did not have nets with the rest of the team because they were preparing for a meeting at the Pakistan high commission in London on Wednesday.

“The three are not practising and they have to go to London to attend the meeting at the High Commission in connection with the ongoing investigations into spot-fixing,” Yawar said.

Although Yawar did not specify whether the three players would be subjected to another round of interrogation by the Scotland Yard, there was speculation that the players could be questioned again. However, there was no official confirmation yet.

Pakistan has retained all the three players named in the scandal in their one-day squad for the series against England and the team play a practice match at Taunton on Thursday.

Yawar said that the three players had been called to the High Commission where the high commissioner has invited a leading British legal expert to be present along with PCB chairman Ejaz Butt.

“In all probability, the PCB chief and the High Commissioner will talk to the players in front of the legal expert and take a decision on future course of action in the investigations,” a team source said.

He said the decision to not allow the three players to practice with the team came after a meeting held between one-day captain Shahid Afridi, Yawar, coach Waqar Younis and the PCB chairman.

“The idea apparently is that the players accused of fixing should be kept away from media glare and have been told to remain indoors in the hotel to avoid more controversies,” the source added.

The players have been accused by a 35-year-old Pakistan bookie Mazhar Majeed of taking bribes to do spot fixing during the fourth Test at Lord’s against England.

Mother tries to murder leprosy affected daughter

A mother on Monday tried to kill her 17-year-old daughter in Seetha-ramapuram forest because the girl is suffering from leprosy and had become an obstacle for the marriage of her other two children.

The victim, Shaik Hasina, is the daughter of a fruit vendor, Mr Dastagiri of Kadapa town and a

Class VII student in a madrasa. On Monday, her mother, Parveen, and her mother’s friend, Mabu Peera, asked Hasina to accompany them to hospital for treatment and took her into the forest between Seetharamapuram and Porumamilla in YSR Kadapa district.

They strangled her using a chunni and also banged her face against a boulder after she lost conscious in a bid to disfigure her to prevent identification. They left the forest assuming that Hasina was dead.

Hasina, however, regained conscious on Tuesday morning when it started to rain and managed to reach the nearby ghat road. A passenger travelling in a bus saw her and alerted the 108 ambulance service and they in turn, informed the Seetharamapuram police.

The police rushed to the spot and shifted her to the government hospital in Udayagiri for treatment. Quoting the victim, the Duttalur sub-inspector,

Mr Shaik Ibrahim said that her mother and her friend wanted to eliminate her because marriage proposals were not coming for her brother and her sister because of her disease.

“The girl has also told us that her mother and Mabu wanted to eliminate her because she objected to their affair. We are not sure about this version because her speech is not clear due to the multiple injures she has suffered,” the SI said.

Charminar project fails to take off

The Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP) to save the heritage edifice from pollution by decongesting the area around it is nowhere near completion even 12 years after the project was launched. Work on several components of the CPP such as beautification, conservation and restoration of Pathergatti, the four kamaans, Laad Bazaar, Night Bazaar and the creation of a buffer zone, among other components, have not even begun on a full scale.

It is the lack of coordination between various departments that is responsible for the slow progress of the project. The urgency for completing the project was highlighted on Sunday when pieces of the stucco floral decoration from the minaret of the Charminar peeled off.

The cost of the project, estimated at less than `140 crore at the start, is now expected to cross `300 crore as a result of the delays. More appalling is the fact that the officials are not sure when the project will be completed! Nearly 50 of the 250 properties slated for demolition in order to widen the inner ring road around the monument are yet to be demolished. Also nearly 60 more properties are yet to be acquired for widening the eight kilometre outer ring road. The ORR stretch is as follows: Mir Alam Mandi road from Azakhana Zehra to Daira Mir Momin, Hari Bowli road from Himmatpura junction to Khilwath to Motigalli, Chowk road to Shaad Cafe, City College to Naya Pul, Salar Jung Road to Aza Khana Zehra and up to Panch Mohalla.

The GHMC’s senior architect planner, Mr K. Srinivasa Rao, admitted the delay in the execution of the project, due mainly to the number of court cases the corporation had to fight over the properties to be acquired for road widening.

Word from MHA, Guv lands Aravinda top job

Ending days of suspense, the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, on Tuesday appointed Mr K. Aravinda Rao as the new director general of police.

A positive endorsement from the ministry of home affairs and a word of support from the Governor, Mr E.S.L. Narasimhan, helped Mr Aravinda Rao edge out another top contender, Mr Umesh Kumar, and get the coveted post.

It was his track record in handling crisis situations that worked things in Mr Aravinda Rao’s favour. The 1977 batch IPS official would have to summon this skill soon enough with the Sri Krishna panel getting ready to submit its report on Telangana in December.

After waiting till the eleventh hour, the Chief Minister posted Mr Umesh Kumar as director general of Anti Corruption Bureau.

Another contender for the DGP’s post, Mr A. Sivashankar, was posted in the AP Road Safety Authority.

Mr Umesh Kumar was holding the post of director -general (provisions and logistics) and Mr Sivashankar was chairman of the Andhra Pradesh State Level Recruitment Board.

Mr Aravinda Rao, who has handled many key posts including that of ADGP (intelligence), will be DGP of the State for ten months. Mr Aravinda Rao also has rich experience in tackling Maoists and factionists in various districts. Further, he is adept at gathering political intelligence.

The new DGP said that maintaining law and order was his top priority. “There is a general feeling that this is turbulent time,” he said.

It’s an order, SC tells Pawar, give food free

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reminded the Union agriculture minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, that the apex court’s earlier order to distribute food grains to the poor instead of letting it rot, which the minister had taken to be a “suggestion” not binding on the government, was indeed an order, and not a suggestion.

Bringing up this issue in the Lok Sabha, the Opposition cornered the government, forcing it to give an assurance that it would implement the SC order. Initiating an impromptu debate over the issue, the Leader of the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj, asked why Mr Pawar had taken the apex court’s order as a suggestion.

Responding, Mr Pawar said, This government will honour the decision of the Supreme Court. The sentiment of the House will also be taken into account.

Earlier, while referring to media reports attributed to Mr Pawar wherein he said the apex court had only made a suggestion to the Centre on August 12, a bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma told additional solicitor general (ASG), Mr Mohan Parasaran, “Tell your minister not to make any such comment. What we have said is an order and not a suggestion. Let him not misunderstand our order.”

3 quizzed on Big Fix

The investigation into the spot-fixing allegations against the Pakistan cricket team took an interesting turn on Tuesday as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs revealed that it had arrested three persons for questioning in a money-laundering investigation.

HMRC said the three persons had been arrested, questioned as part of an investigation into money laundering and released on bail. Three individuals were arrested on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering. This includes two 35-year-olds — a male and a female — from the Croydon area, and a 49-year-old male from the Wembley area. These individuals were arrested, questioned and have been bailed pending further investigation, HMRC said without identifying them.

Thirty-five-year-old London businessman Mazhar Majeed is also out on police bail over the investigation into spot-fixing allegations involving Pakistan fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, who have been accused of deliberately bowling three no-balls during the fourth England-Pakistan Test at Lord’s last Thursday and Friday.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed, who is in Taunton, Somerset, with the cricket team said on Tuesday afternoon that three cricketers had been summoned to meet the PCB top officials.
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